poet. writer. teacher

2020-2021 Santa Clara County Poet Laureate

artwork by Stephanie Castillo

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Therapist’s Recommendation 

Janice Lobo Sapigao

We drive on I-880 towards Homegoods and TJMaxx in Cupertino from San José / Ma takes a deep breath while I fumble with choosing a radio station and the wheel / says again that she’s scared / asks again, emphatically, as if we had been inside a conversation / asks the windshield, “What if I die?” / says to her palm, “You and your brother are not even married yet.” / can mind-read so effortlessly from the passenger’s side, “Who will take care of you?” / When Ma says she’s scared / I don’t listen / her confessions the writing prompts I dodge / I don’t let her finish her sentences / I deflect her fears with my jumping avoidance / instead of my empty phrases / like “Don’t worry” / or “You’re fine, mom” / I stop silencing her / instead I imagine:


We drive back to the hospital for free cupcakes / all the doctors are in one room / celebrating / telling us her cancer is in remission / confirming the research that it no longer exists to kill / we’ll never have to come back here, in fact, everyone else in the hospital is healed / and released / and the hospital has a Circus and Playground Department / or  something vapid but entertaining like the Museum of Ice Cream / where illusion is playful and tangible / and the Warriors appear in support / and they all sign a jersey / she takes pictures with her favorites / calls Stephen Curry / Step, Carry like she’s giving the sweetest instructions for how to do a lay-up / and he hugs her in congratulation / and the nurses / hold balloons and give us canvas bags as big as hot air balloons for a shopping spree / and they hand us golden envelopes with gift cards to discount retail stores / and malls / they give us clocks with no minute or hour hands / nothing slips away from us / especially not / not our time with each other